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Suspected poachers gunned down in Assam wildlife sanctuary, probe ordered

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Suspected poachers gunned down in Assam wildlife sanctuary, probe ordered

Guwahati, June 23 (IANS) A day before two suspected poachers were gunned down by Assam Forest guards in Assam’s Laokhowa Wildlife Sanctuary, a top forest officer has told that the Forest department has lodged an FIR with the police and ordered a magisterial probe.

Assam’s Kaziranga National Park and Tiger Reserve (KNPTR) Director Sonali Ghosh said on Saturday that the forest patrolling parties while on Rhino protection duty near Saraihagi anti-poaching camps confronted a group of 20 armed poachers near Roumari Beel, under Gorajan Range in Laokhowa Wildlife Sanctuary.

She added that when challenged, the intruders attacked the forest guards with sharp weapons, and the forest team opened fire in self-defence.

Later, the Nagaon Divisional Forest Officer and Superintendent of Police reached the spot and the two fatally wounded intruders were taken to the Nagaon Civil Hospital where they were pronounced dead.

The duo was identified as Jalil Uddin and Sameer Uddin, the residents of Dhingbari Chapari village in the Nagaon district.

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Police said the accused were in their late 20s.

Roumari beel and adjoining grassland areas are some of the most prominent rhino habitats under Laokhowa Wildlife Sanctuary, with a 70.13 sq. km area in the Nagaon district that is a part of the greater Kaziranga landscape.

The KNPTR Director added that the sanctuary had a tragic past of rhino poaching, illegal fishing, hunting, and encroachment in the 1980s.

In the mid-1980s, around 45 rhinos were poached to local extinction. Miscreants are known to have attacked forest staff on multiple occasions.

For the last two years, the Forest Department has strengthened the boundaries with additional forest frontline and maintained a strong vigil, the official said, adding that it is due to such interventions that two to three rhinos that had naturally migrated from Orang Tiger Reserve have moved in the Roumari landscape since October last year.

At present, the police and Forest Department staff are camping on the site to maintain law and order.

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The KNPTR is India’s seventh UNESCO world heritage site famous for its one-horned rhinos, and home to more than 2,613 one-horned Indian rhinos and other animals, including tigers and elephants.

–IANS

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India on the cusp of launching U-WIN platform to monitor kids' health records: Health Secy

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India on the cusp of launching U-WIN platform to monitor kids' health records: Health Secy

India on the cusp of launching U-WIN platform to monitor kids' health records: Health Secy

New Delhi, July 25 (IANS) India is unequivocally committed to the well-being of its adolescents — the highest in the world — and is soon set to launch a Co-WIN-like platform for monitoring and identifying health records of children, Union Health Secretary Apurva Chandra said on Thursday.

“India is on the cusp of launching the U-WIN platform which is modelled after the Co-WIN platform,” said Chandra, while speaking at the launch of the “Economic Case for Investment in the Well-being of Adolescents in India” report in the national capital.

The platform “would lead to a transformative impact on not just storing the health records of every child but also in digitising these records as well as in monitoring, identifying and rectifying the challenges that arise”, he added.

The report highlights significant improvements in adolescent well-being in India over recent decades, showcasing the government’s extensive policies and programmes aimed at promoting the health and well-being of adolescents.

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The Health Secretary noted that “India has and will continue to remain steadfast in its commitment to nurturing adolescents’ talents”.

“India has the largest population of adolescents in the world, 253 million strong, and growing. Our adolescents are the backbone of our future, embodying the promise of a vibrant and progressive nation,” Chandra said, noting that the country is “the first to launch the Rashtriya Kishor Swasthya Karyakram (RKSK)”.

RKSK is a dedicated programme to “reach out to the 253 million adolescents — male and female, rural and urban, married and unmarried, in and out-of-school adolescents with special focus on marginalised and under-served groups”.

Further, the Health Secretary pointed out several programmes for the well-being of adolescents, such as the School Health and Wellness Programme under Ayushman Bharat and the Scheme for Promotion of Menstrual Hygiene.

–IANS

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Kerala govt should not intrude into matters beyond its constitutional jurisdiction: MEA

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Kerala govt should not intrude into matters beyond its constitutional
 jurisdiction: MEA

Kerala govt should not intrude into matters beyond its constitutional
 jurisdiction: MEA

New Delhi, July 25 (IANS) Reacting strongly to Kerala government’s recent order to appoint a senior IAS officer as a ‘Foreign Secretary’, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) on Thursday made it clear that the Indian Constitution clearly states that ‘Foreign Affairs’ are not ‘Concurrent’, “and definitely not a State subject”.

In an order dated July 15, the Kerala government led by Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan appointed senior bureaucrat K. Vasuki as Foreign Secretary in matters concerning external cooperation.

“Let’s be very clear, the Constitution of India under the Seventh Schedule, List I, which is a Union List, clearly specifies that foreign affairs and all matters which bring the Union into the relation with any foreign country are the sole prerogative of the Union government.

“Foreign affairs is not a concurrent subject and definitely not a State subject. So, our position is that state governments should not intrude into matters that are beyond their constitutional jurisdiction,” MEA spokesperson Randhir Jaiswal said on Thursday.

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Meanwhile, the Kerala government continues to receive criticism from several quarters for its decision.

“The appointment of an IAS officer as Foreign Secretary in Kerala by CM Pinarayi Vijayan is a blatant overreach and a violation of the Union List of the Constitution. The LDF government has no mandate in foreign affairs,” said K. Surendran, BJP’s Kerala unit chief.

“This unconstitutional move sets a dangerous precedent. Is CM Pinarayi Vijayan trying to establish Kerala as a separate nation,” Surendran asked.

He added that if things continue like this, the Chief Minister would be asking for a separate consulate and a Foreign Affairs Minister very soon.

“In the larger interest of the country, CM Vijayan should immediately cancel the appointment of Vasuki to the new post as it’s not in tune with national interest,” Surendran said.

–IANS

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Manish Tewari questions govt on carbon emissions, Power Minister says 'target achieved before time'

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Manish Tewari questions govt on carbon emissions, Power Minister says 'target achieved before time'

Manish Tewari questions govt on carbon emissions, Power Minister says 'target achieved before time'

New Delhi, July 25 (IANS) Congress MP Manish Tewari on Thursday questioned the government over issues of carbon emissions and global warming, while citing the global consensus of the 1992 Earth Summit.

He said that this issue also found its mention in the Economic Survey, to which Union Power Minister Manohar Lal Khattar replied that the government was not only serious and forthcoming in achieving the climate goal objectives, rather it has achieved “targets before time”.

Speaking in the Lok Sabha, Tewari said that the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro (1992) reached a consensus that global warming must be limited to 1.5 degrees of pre-industrial temperatures that prevailed during the 1500s, before the first industrial revolution took place. He further said that the two chapters of the Economic Survey also talked about the sacrosanct 1.5 degrees and asked whether the government agreed with the assertion made in the document.

Replying to this, Union Minister Khattar said that the government was taking proactive steps towards this and it is also yielding results. “We have some commitments to the world community to achieve. We had set a target to reduce emissions by 30-35 per cent but we achieved it before time,” Khattar told the House.

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He further said that by 2030, the government expects to cut it further by 40-45 per cent.

The Union Minister further said that the carbon emission targets are set up every year. All sectors and industries are given targets with a motive to spur competition. Those who accomplish the carbon emission target will be issued a certificate.

Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla also made an intervening remark and said that it’s a matter of pride that India is the only country to achieve the carbon emission targets before time.

Notably, the government has already declared its intent to roll out a carbon credit Trading Scheme by 2026. Those adhering to norms will also be issued a carbon certificate. A single carbon credit represents the removal or avoided emission of one ton of carbon dioxide – or another greenhouse gas like methane of equivalent volume. These credits can be sold at a cost to an entity that can then claim that credit as a reduction in its own carbon emissions.

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–IANS

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Ex-J&K Dy CM says Omar Abdullah 'frustrated', unable to see change

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Ex-J&K Dy CM says Omar Abdullah 'frustrated', unable to see change

Ex-J&K Dy CM says Omar Abdullah 'frustrated', unable to see change

Jammu, July 25 (IANS) Former J&K Deputy Chief Minister and senior BJP leader Kavinder Gupta said on Thursday that remaining out of power and losing the Lok Sabha election has created ‘frustration’ in former CM Omar Abdullah.

Talking to IANS, Gupta said, “These people have ruled J&K for 65 years. They were born and have lived in security protection and still, they are unable to see the change in the overall situation in the UT.”

He said Omar Abdullah has started disputing even the official figures about the militancy-related incidents.

“They have been sympathisers of the Jamaati-e-Islami and other separatist organisations. They are unable to live with the idea of the change that J&K has undergone during the last five years,” Gupta said.

He was criticising the statement of Omar Abdullah in which the latter had attacked the Centre over the US advisory to its citizens on the J&K situation.

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Earlier in the day, Abdullah posted on X “In asking US citizens to not visit Jammu and Kashmir, the advisory points to ‘terrorist attacks’ and ‘violent civil unrest,’ as well as ‘sporadic violence’ between the Indian and Pakistani forces along the Line of Control (LoC). So much for ‘naya J&K’. For all the talk of normalcy, peace, tourism & the G-20 tamasha in Srinagar, J&K continues to be the target of US state department travel advisories. The Modi government has been able to change nothing.”

“The Indian government says that violence has reduced since 2019, when it revoked a constitutional provision that gave the region special autonomy. Since 2021, there have been 33 militant-related attacks in Jammu, according to official data. In 2024 alone, the region has seen eight attacks, in which 11 soldiers have been killed and 18 injured. Civilian deaths in Jammu in the first six months of this year were 12, the same number as the whole of 2023,” Abdullah further posted.

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–IANS

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Assam Police saw 4-fold drop in case backlog in last 3 years: CM Sarma

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Assam Police saw 4-fold drop in case backlog in last 3 years: CM Sarma

Assam Police saw 4-fold drop in case backlog in last 3 years: CM Sarma

Guwahati, July 25 (IANS) Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma claimed on Thursday that the state police force has been strengthened and the case pendency rate has been reduced by at least four-fold in the last three years.

According to the Chief Minister, in 2021, 95,994 cases were pending in Assam, which dropped drastically to 18,286 cases in 2024.

The burden of cases for each investigating officer has also lowered. In 2021, there were 52 cases per investigating officer in the police department which has come down to 7.39 cases as of June 2024.

In a post on X, Sarma said, “Due to our modernisation efforts, the average number of cases an investigating officer of @assampolice looks after has significantly come down, reducing their burden and improving the quality of investigation.”

“This has resulted in a drastic reduction in case pendency, benefiting a large section of the society,” he added.

The state government has taken several steps in the last three years to bring an overall change in the state police force.

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The Body Mass Index (BMI) calculation for all officers and staff in the police department was introduced last year to make the police force more fit.

CM Sarma had earlier instructed that if any policeman is found intoxicated during duty hours, he will be immediately dismissed from service.

“Police should always behave in a responsible manner so that citizens feel comfortable while coming to the police stations,” he had said.

–IANS

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